Photoessay: KLCC abstracts in monochrome

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Half of perhaps the most iconic building in Malaysia.

Rather frustratingly, I’d actually typed out a long history about KLCC, but WordPress ate it and it’s nowhere to be found. Here we go again…

The Petronas Twin Towers – 88 stories, and part of the greater KLCC complex (including a park, two hotels, conventionn center, mall, mosque and another two office blocks) – put Malaysia on the map for megaprojects. Opened in 1998, the towers were designed by Cesar Pelli and completed by competing Korean and Japanese firms. It was paid for entirely by petroleum revenues from the eponymous national oil company; during the Asian Financial Crisis, occupancy was low – again with the exception of the name tenant – these days, things are back to normal and space is at a hideous premium, even on an international level. Architecturally, the site is challenging as it’s a former racecourse with very little bedrock and a lot of clay and porous limestone; this is the main reason for putting the taller, heavier structures around the periphery. Even so, extensive piling and foundation works had to be done, and many of the lower basement levels underneath the main towers are filled with concrete to settle the ground and form a floating slab on which some of the other outlying structures sit.

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Like every other landmark, this building has probably been shot to death by most photographers visiting or living in Kuala Lumpur; it’s therefore very difficult to get new or unique perspectives. I’m no exception – I’ve shot this building and the surrounding park with no end of different cameras, conditions and times of day. The pedestrian areas are actually quite lousy for street photography as they’re too open or indoors and too dimly lit; no matter because the architectural details are fantastic. The towers have a stainless-steel cladding that’s beautifully textured and reflects light in interesting ways; it’s especially suited to film photography because of the wide tonal range it produces. Unlike other buildings in Malaysia, this one has been well-maintained and is kept clean; sadly not the case for most places – the new Bank Negara headquarters is a good example – its titanium cladding has rainwater stains after just one year.

On an unrelated note, today is also my birthday – I’m 27, for those of you who are curious. I’m sure there’s a metaphor or moral of sorts about going around in circles and me posting a set of images from a frequented location with an older camera…for the life of me I can’t quite figure out what it is, though. Perhaps I’m just getting old 😉

This series was shot with a Nikon F6 on Ilford Pan F 50 film, using the 45/2.8 AI-P and AFS 85/1.8 G lenses, then scanned with a D800E and 60/2.8 G Micro. Enjoy! MT

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Lobby sculpture

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Ground level cladding detail

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Mall skylight

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Notch and pillar

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  1. The building looks like a giant robot, the photos are low light?

  2. Rex Gigout says:

    A belated Happy Birthday to you!

    Ah, to be twenty-seven again; I would settle for thirty-seven! I really started to feel the onset of aging, especially the lessening of energy, at forty-seven.

    I enjoyed seeing these excellent images, and find it really interesting that you shot them with an F6. The F6 has become my new favorite for my personal SLR shooting.

  3. Christian M. says:

    Happy Birthday Ming, I hope you have a wonderful day! And thanks for running your blog, sharing your thoughts and pictures.
    I guess I am not the only one asking, but would you please share how you would “scan” color negative film with your D800E ? Scanning and reversing Black & White Negative film is not a problem, slide film (positive film) is even easy with your DSLR set up, but how can I convert color negative film into real pictures? It drives me crazy… Kind greetings from Germany.

    • Thanks Christian. Color negs – I don’t shoot them so I can’t say, but in principle – the same way as for B&W negatives, but you’d have to adjust each of the curve channels individually afterwards, or work in LAB mode. I might have to pick up a couple of rolls of color to experiment with.

  4. Happy Birthday Ming! My mom’s birthday is on the 18th. If you’re only 27, forget what I said a few weeks ago about getting more sleep… You’re young. I’d say take advantage of it. You’ll only have this much energy for so long! (However, I do say you may want to be less picky about your hobbies. Try everything. The reason I say this is that, at 40, I’m only getting pickier and grouchier. (It’s just part of growing older.) Same goes for my parents! Eat some noodles (for longevity), per the Chinese tradition…!

    • Haha, thanks Eric! Already tried a lot of things, so the question is now ‘what’s left?’ Also, time…

      I did have the noodles though. 🙂

  5. Very nice and fresh point of view.

  6. calvin yee says:

    happy birthday ming, at 27, you have inspired a 66 year old beginner. thanks very much.

  7. Happy birthday! 🙂 i enjoy looking at your great works, also learning photography from your site.

  8. Hj Raden says:

    Assalamu’alaikum Ming and happy birthday. Happy Ramadhan to you and your missus too.

  9. James de Penning says:

    Missed my daily read yesterday Ming due to being airborne, so a belated very happy birthday!

  10. Happy Birthday Ming! 🙂

  11. Sunny Tan says:

    Happy Birthday Ming. You are so young and talented. My son who is a freelance artist and a keen photographer says he can relate to your business aspect and your passion for photography. Your articles and work has been an aspiration to both of us. Thank you.

  12. vinh truong says:

    Happy birthday Ming. Hope you enjoy your birthday as much as making all those excellent photos:) Best wishes.

  13. The calibrated display is down so I’ve pressed an elderly flatpanel into service as a temporary stand-in that’s usable for text and administrative tasks but quite unkind to images. When viewed on this very unfavorable display, this particular set of monochromes takes on increased appearance of illustrations with a touch of surrealism. It was, surprisingly, not altogether unpleasant.

    Well, Happy Birthday… (I haven’t checked the date line so it might now be “belated birthday”.)

  14. Werner. says:

    Happy birthday, Ming!
    We are always saying: “we could do this and that and that ….” and YOU?
    You have just done it!
    I have drawers full of semi-finished projects (some completed projects as well), and you – you’re writing your blog every day, taking your photos every day, … . You’re just great!

    The best wishes for you, and my compliments for your achievement, and the community you are having around this blog now –
    best wishes to everyone, and let us join all together with a glass of champagne in our hands and the best thoughts of peace and respect for each other aróund the globe!

    Werner from Germany.

    • Haha, thank you, Werner. Sometimes I wish I could put things in the drawers and get some sleep, but that’s just me…cheers!

  15. Stephen Scharf says:

    Beautiful series of architectural photographs, Ming. I personally really enjoy this class of photography myself.

    And, Happy Birthday! Wow, 27. I would love to be 27 again!

  16. I really love those interiors, the tonality is amazing. Could you do a blog post or in some way describe your post processing on these?

  17. Kristian Wannebo says:


    Hjärtliga gratulationer på födelsedagen!
    Och ett Gott Nytt (levnads-) År!

    A late coming

    And a Happy New Year (of your life)!


  18. Happy birthday Ming! If you ever make it to Los Angeles, it would be very interesting to see your take on Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is clad entirely in steel plates, and has been photographed to death as well.

  19. Peter Boender says:

    Well, your body may have just turned 27, your mind is (admiringly) already many years older than that! Best birthday wishes! I hope Nadia and you have found a little time to celebrate?

    • Thanks Peter! I’m not sure the mind being older is necessarily a good thing. 😛

      We had a nice dinner yesterday and then I had to fix a minor site crisis…

  20. Agustin Collazo says:

    Happy Birthday Ming!! Beautiful pictures as always.

  21. sergeylandesman says:

    Happy Birthday and Best Wishes from Miami,Florida! Well done!

  22. Jorge Balarin says:

    Absolutely outstanding, and happy birthday !!

    • Thanks!

      • Actually Ming, 27 is not that great an age. Most people don’t have a clear idea of what they want to do and they haven’t hit the sweet spot of financial rewards. For me, after 42 is when the best of times started and it’s been a great ride since. I really don’t regret being 27. Carpe diem my friend! And Joyeux Anniversaire…….

        • Thanks Christian. I know what I want to do, but that sadly involved giving up the financial rewards I was getting from a C-level corporate career…

  23. happy birthday !!!! thanks for the review on Sigma DP1X.
    I bough it and images are superior than my Nikon d800.

  24. Anatoly Loshmanov says:

    Exelent photography.
    Happy Birthday to you!
    The best in future!

  25. Beautiful!

  26. Artur Colaço says:

    Happy birth day from Lisbon and congratulations for being such a young photography philosopher.

  27. Happy birthday Ming!
    i`ve been reading your blog daily for about a year now, and i must congratulate you for the passion, hard work and talent that you put in your photos and articles. Your blog was one of the things that made me make my mind and step in the online world with my photography, and your professionalism in the way you see and comment/relate to things is another thing i admire.

    Wish you all the good light in your lens and soul!
    ..and keep going on your way!

  28. John weeks says:

    Happy birthday Ming!
    How about posting a photo of you for a change on this special day…

    • Somehow the results that come out when I look through the lens and press the shutter are far, far inferior to those when I look through the viewfinder… 🙂

  29. Paul Stokes says:

    Happy birthday Ming. Beautiful b&w images as always.

  30. Birthday greetings “pup”
    Younger than my youngest, you lucky thing
    PS jealous?? Too right I am

  31. Oskar O says:

    Happy birthday! I’m just a few years older, wasn’t even married back then. Have to say that life can change a lot in the few years after 27, which can be a good thing…

    The KLCC pictures are really a tonal feast, but some of the compositions could be a bit better controlled, IMHO. Still, it’s clearly a series and works in that way.

    Always wondering whether a 45/2.8 P is different enough from other 50’s to be worth buying or not…

    • Thanks Oskar!

      Better controlled in what way? I was happy with them – otherwise I wouldn’t post, of course…

      Short answer on the 45P – no, but it’s a cool lens.

      • Oskar O. says:

        I did assume you were happy with them and don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t wish to spoil your birthday, but I usually find your presentations of very high quality and to be honest, some of these pictures left me a bit cold. For example, the last 4 pictures do not have an obvious subject and are too cluttered to form textures; the lobby sculpture does not separate the sculpture well enough from the background, giving a somewhat cluttered impression and the 3rd picture from the top works with repetition and perspective, but it frankly bothers me that the escapign point is just slightly off center. Do not read too much into this — it would only be fair for me to write a comment also when I think that your photos are excellent, but I usually don’t due to time constraints.

        The photo I really like in this series is the 4th: the steep angles and light tubing juxtapose nicely against the dark background. Simple, but effective.

        Thanks for the short answer on the 45P, it will stay on my low priority list.

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          If I may be allowed to chip in…

          Yes, the 4 last are increasingly cluttered,
          BUT viewed as PART OF THE COLLECTION I find that just right!

          The lobby sculpture:
          A background more out of focus would, I think, feel cluttered and distract more from the sculpture.
          ( And quite possibly the DOF would have been too short for the sculpture.)
          I think Ming solved it nicely with just enough blur and JUST THE RIGHT POSITIONING against the roof geometry.

          And I think the escaping point (in this case) should be a bit off center.

          Nr. 4, yes!
          And 7, 8, 12!

        • Not at all – objective opinions are useful – if anything, more so than the pats-on-the-back. 🙂

  32. Happy Birthday Ming, you express wiser than your years… Word press has done that to me on the odd occasion.Its infuriating!
    Its almost ten years since I was last in KL I must get back to Malaysia again, so much has changed but hopefully not the food its some of the best I have ever eaten. Especially in Ipoh and Penang.

  33. Happy birthday! Did you get some nice presents?

  34. Great pics as always, how do you scan negs with D800? What adapter are you using? Thanks

  35. Well, what do you know, we share the same birthday (July 17). Wishing you a happy and prosperous life ahead!

  36. Happy Birthday Ming, Wish you all the best in your personal and business life. Enjoy your day.

  37. Tom Liles says:

    Many happy returns MT!

    You might be the easiest man in the universe to buy a present for: rolls of 120 / cigars / tea / BMW Ms 😉

    • Thanks Tom.

      Hahaha – tell that to the wife, she thinks the opposite. Problem is, it’s very easy to go wrong with the first three, and the last one is bloody expensive 😛

      Incidentally, the Lotus isn’t happening. Not really surprised though.

      • Tom Liles says:

        Ah well, shame about the Lotus—and it would’ve been a great Birthday bump, too! Unlucky. Onto the next one!

        Crikey, in all seriousness, perfectionists like yourself — and about 99% of us here — must be a NIGHTMARE to buy presents for. Now, that said, from our side, we are all “no, it’s the thought that counts and anything is fine!” but our loved ones see us for the other 364 days of the year: poking disapprovingly at plates of food; taking 20 frames to get one “keeper”; researching so deep into the cut that we could write theses on the subject, when all we’re looking at buying is a new pen. But still, when we said “it’s the thought that counts,” I’m sure we believed it. I do. I did.

        My wife just gave me the money and let me loose in a camera shop though — bless her heart — got my 45/2.8P on the back of that 🙂

        More birthdays please!

        Here, Ming: tea and film I can see how you’d go wring with—but cigars? Interesting. I’d have thought like medium format optics—there’s not much rubbish out there?
        [SHOEHORN ALERT: The CEO of my company is a cigar smoker and likes the “Churchill” type. I know nothing about cigars and his birthday is coming up—what’s a decent brand for these ones? If you don’t me asking! Everyone’s tastes differ so there’s no way you could make the perfect suggestion, I just mean, a few well respected brandnames for this style of cigar… God, now I’ve really turned it on haven’t I? The gallery are welcome to chip in! I’m shipping out 🙂 ]

        • The attitude of salespeople in this country is seriously shocking; the customer has to do all the chasing! I think perhaps that’s what happens when the parent company is owned by a government entity. Oh well. I lived without it.

          20 frames? Try 99. Or 1.2 with film. 🙂

          There are plenty of rubbishy cigars. Even amongst the Cubans; and it doesn’t help that my humidors are laid up with limited editions for ageing and future enjoyment – a bit like having a lens cabinet full of Noct-Nikkors…

          CEO – hard to say; Churchills are a size, not a brand or blend. If he’s not adventurous, then the Romeo y Julieta Churchill is the classic and the one to go for. Failing that, there are more interesting options, but that’s a safe bet.

          • Tom Liles says:

            Thanks MT. Yes, he told me he likes the Churchill size; classic is good, can’t go wrong with classic. I will buy him a Romeo Y Julieta. As Clive Owen turned to Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne and said, at his end: the things they make us do…

            Customer having to do the chasing is red light territory isn’t it. I’ve become a complete service Nazi since coming to Japan and am not impressed by salespeople unable to do the basics. I don’t think any salesman worth his salt that didn’t have a genuine appreciation of and care for his customer. When you have that, following up is, well, it just follows on 🙂
            The fast-money, “del-boy,” pretty boy, charlatan type salesmen never last in this game, in the crucible of shop-floor sales. You just get found out. That’s why they all end up as managers, giving powerpoints written in corporatese about their own greatness to other coffee and biscuits paper-tiger salesmen, for the rest of their days. A kind of hell they’re too stupid to realize they are living.

            That’s what happens when the government tries to make, and sell, cars? May I humbly present to you, British Leyland 🙂

            • I’m wondering if it’s just a cultural thing here. Customer service is crap all around; no matter if you’re buying something cheap or something hideously expensive. And it just makes you feel used at the end of it – you don’t want to go back for a second round unless you have no choice.

              We go around in circles: del boy trains other del boys and since people are ‘used to it’, service remains crap. Frankly, I’d rather buy online most of the time – no service is better than bad service.

              • Paul Stokes says:

                Have to agree with you and Tom. When we are in Japan it is usually like being in a service Disneyland. There are plenty of staff, eager to assist you and who will stay with you until your shopping is complete. They will make suggestions and not be offended if you don’t take them up. I’m sure I buy more than I should simply because buying is such a pleasure. It doesn’t matter if we are in Isetan or Uniglo or [insert your favourite store] it is usually the same. We were in Barneys in Ginza one day while a young, obviously wealthy young Japanese lady was having her feet stroked and massaged by the young male service provider as a prelude to trying on some shoes. My wife turned to me and said ‘I’d like some of that before I try my shoes on’. Fortunately there were no shoes she liked not being partial to very high heels.

                Tom, do/did you buy your cameras in Japan? Can you set the instructions to English if you buy there. I realise the answer should be yes as Ricoh or Nikon are unlikely to do different language programming for different countries but they might for different regions.

                Coming back home then is a shock, not only because of how little you can buy. Most store have less and less staff who know less and less about the products they are selling and attend to you when they can leave their smartphone long enough. Like you Ming I am buying more and more on line, also because the shops now stock so little or can do a special order, though I haven’t gone so far as to buy a camera on line yet.

                A friend shopping in China last year actually had his change thrown onto the counter at him.

                • I still remember the poor chap who brought out pretty much every vintage Nikon and Leica they had for me to see, patiently discussing the various technical and collectible merits. Doyle, one of my readers and participant in the first Tokyo workshop will remember this several-hour long session. He’ll also remember that I went in for a cheap beater Nikon F as a souvenir…and then after all of this, walked out with a mint-condition F2 Titan instead. 😛 I’d say that was a good job of upselling on the salesman’s part; but you know what, even though I blew the budget by a factor of about 50, I felt really good about it. One of the best purchases I’d made. And I’d definitely go back again, maybe for the M6 Titanium or 28/1.4 D that escaped me the first time. So, there’s definitely value to service.

                  Tell you what though, it really makes me NOT want to buy anything here. It’s not just no service, it’s bad service. And the last thing I tried to buy was a car!

                  • Paul Stokes says:

                    I went into my camera shop this morning to discuss getting the Ricoh GR and left with a Blad 500 CM so I do know what you mean and what really good focus and service can do to your bank balance. I’ve loaded colour at the moment but look forward to getting another back for black and white.

                    • Whoops! But I bet you felt good about it 🙂

                    • Tom Liles says:

                      oh Christ Paul 😮 🙂 How does that happen? I’m joking –> I know exactly how that happens 😉

                      Yes, I buy all my cameras in Japan. I’ve lived here, on and off, for over decade, but have only picked up photography recently. And yes, you certainly can set the instructions for English [you mean the in-camera ones yeah?]. If I remember right, the last couple of digital cameras I got spoke English out of the box [the default setting]. The bigger electrical stores will even fetch you English language handbooks: sometimes you have to ask for that, but most floor-staff are very good at this sort of thing [connecting the good service dots]. Though, just on that, handbooks, I usually download PDFs of English language instructions online instead; a naive hope of reducing demand for paper [infinitesimally] and encouraging makers to keep more technical resources openly available to the public.

                      I think — overarching thought here — they’ve been buying and selling stuff and doing business in the East for A LOT LONGER than we western europeans have and it’s a much much more ingrained part of the culture, especially so in Japan—entertaining guests, customers; manners; orthodoxy as opposed to praxis, i.e., following protocol and doing what’s supposed to be done, rather than just considering an end result… these are all factors. The western sales staff may make a sale even though they spent half their time texting a mate, right in front of the customer; and those wombats would just say “well, I made the sale didn’t I?” Mmm. OK. Yes. Their Japanese counterpart would be led out in front of a firing squad and summarily executed for even having his private phone on his person in the presence of a customer [on the clock]. And when it comes to his sale making: it has to be done right. Well it doesn’t have to, and many youngsters are rebelling against these traditions [they won’t win]; but culturally, it’s better if it is. Yes, the sale is qualitatively “better” if he follows protocol, does it the done way—then that’s a true sale. A proper sale. Can be called “a sale.” I think it ties into Confucianism. The following is an insult of a sketch, but it’s something like the result is no result at all, meaningless even, if the process wasn’t followed correctly. Your garden variety westerner looks at this and laughs. Same difference. You got from A to B, who gives a toss what happened in between.
                      [An aside, I always thought Jim Jarmusch gets this “not A and B that matters—it’s the journey, man” thing, and his films are very cool and popular in Japan.]

                      But I think everyone reading this site has an inkling that it matters and so do give a toss. That’s why we’re bothered about Blads or GRs so much—to the average Joe, they’re both cameras, they both get you a picture, what’s the difference? etc…

                      I’m new enough that I can still see that argument. On the other hand, I own six cameras –> and that’s in as many months as I’ve had the hobby [I haven’t actually spent that much money though, honest! You couldn’t buy the oldest digital Leica, a battered and used body only, for the combined outlay of everything I have].

                      Back to service though: it is interesting the difference in attitude between camera camera shop staff here and electrical store camera shop staff. The latter are bright and loud and helpful, but even I’m at the point now where I know more about the photographic product I want than the guy selling it [not fair on the guy, because he has to remember details on like a thousand SKUs on his floor; me, just the one that I’m interested in and have researched feverishly. But still, he’s the one selling it, not me. No excuses in sales.]
                      The former, usually independents spotted about the city — a fair few in Ginza, but I’ve never actually been there to look at cameras believe it or not. I mainly frequent Shinjuku because it’s near work and it’s less pretentious — but these independent store staff can often be stonehearted so-and-sos. Anecdote time –> There’s a lovely little camera shop called “Lucky Camera” hidden away near the south exit of JR Shinjuku. That’s where I saw the Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai [that I’ve got half an eye on] for 28,000 JPY I mentioned in the other thread… going by the shop sign, Lucky Camera’s been selling cameras since the 40s, they have a neat little collection of all sorts of film cameras [a few digital cameras but they don’t really bother, and good for them, they don’t have a hope against the electrical chains, and, as we’ll see in a minute, they’re just too obstinate to try] but the staff [three generations of the same family, I think] are COMPLETE SODS to all new custom. Really. The first time I walked in there, they looked at me like GET OUT! I realized, 90% of punters just stand outside and look in the window. I’ve only seen locals and deliverymen go in there and not get the F-U eyes. Anyway, what do I care about some Japanese biddy giving me evils: I am a customer in the land of “customer is God,” I have cash in my pocket and I’m interested in a MF Ai lens in the window. I ask the old codger can I look. He ignores me. I ask again. He ignores again. I harumph as best I can, mutter in English “never coming here again!”

                      Oh yeah? I go out of my way, off my route, specially, to go past Lucky Camera’s shop window whenever I’m in Shinjuku. How I noticed the Bronica… I bet you every one of the window gazers is just like me. I think Lucky’ve understood the game they’re in. It’s really more like the relationship between a drug dealer and a junkie than a vendor and a customer.

                      And as anyone who’s done drugs will say: they work

                      Should we just rename this site: MT’s MF Get-Together? 🙂

                    • The result and the method matters: the result has to be repeatable, and sustainable. There’s no point closing one sale then having that customer p***** off and telling everybody else not to go there – that’s worse than not interacting with the customer at all. Would I go back to Lemon Camera? Definitely. Would I buy something again? Definitely. Would I go back to Lotus Kuala Lumpur? Hell no, and I’ve already told my other enthusiast friends to avoid that place like the plague. See what I mean?

                      I’ve heard similar things about some of the smaller independents in Tokyo. God knows how they survive with an attitude like that; but then again they do have those Y28,000 Bronicas that you can’t seem to find anywhere else (just buy the bloody thing already!). Their service is probably on par with the average, or better, than what I’d get here.

                      Sure, we can make it MT’s MF GT, but I don’t think that many people here use MF – a lot are diehard latest-digital-gizmo users, too. At very least whenever I get around to getting to Tokyo* it’ll probably be the MF GT.

                      *I, and a couple of others, are putting wheels in motion for November. A couple of people will meet us in Tokyo. If everybody makes it, I think at least four in the party will be shooting MF, myself included.

                    • Tom Liles says:

                      Great stuff Ming. Looking forward to November. On the MF renaming thing, I’m only joking of course; and I could never part with my digital babies—so would never like to see you part with your writing on the topics. Plus, Stephen [Scharf] wouldn’t be happy! But I definitely think something’s in the air—all I seem to notice is medium format film around me. Whether it’s your work, Ming; acquaintances and friends who photograph; cameras in shop windows, or chance sightings of images I like. All medium format, all shot on film.

                      I think like James Joyce is the writers’ writer, medium format film may be the photographers’ photography? Definitely feels like all roads lead to here. Even if you get there and decide it’s not for you. When was the high water mark for DSLR sales? If we assumed a percentage of those people stated with hobby, improved, acquired and wanted more nuance—wouldn’t about now be the time they’re all drifting into film?

                      I think I will have a try on that Bronica Ming. It’s so cheap making a mistake wouldn’t hurt too much. I just can’t get to Lucky Camera — sans kids, hands free to put then in my pocket, etc — for another three weeks yet. Until then it’s the Kodak disposables I’m afraid! 🙂

                    • Well, we could at least hold a small MF get together in person. Perhaps over sushi and pungency, somewhere in Shinjuku near the camera stores…

                      You know what they say about selective vision. That said, there also seem to be a lot of people around me taking up MF film – some of them I’m fairly sure I’m responsible for, the others, who knows?

                      No question that MF B&W has far more nuance than digital can ever hope for, even in print. I think of it this way: if you can’t see the difference, then it’s probably not for you. But if you can, I think you’ll be forever poisoned.

  38. I love the tonality of these images, the silky smooth transition is something i could never achieve with digital!

    And happy birthday!

    • Thanks!

      • Michael Matthews says:

        So….now I believe I see what you mean about the subtleties of tone possible with film. Looking back at the remnants of dragging too much stuff from place to place over the years, I also realize that the most satisfying photo I’ve ever made was taken with a YashicaMat twin lens reflex using Plus-X, developed and printed in my overnight bathroom-darkroom long, long ago. It’s one of those largely black images with a small, bright area. Only upon looking at it for a bit does it disclose that all that rich, black surround is filled with shapes, lines, angles, bits of structure — each with its own definite sequence of gradations in tone. Fascinating.

  39. Happy birthday Ming

  40. Happy Birthday Ming!

  41. Hip-hip… hippety happy birthday!


  42. HB Ming, from the perspective of being 70 you are a baby. I’m not surprised about your love affair with film; I had mine for about 20 years before I went digital. The joy in silver photography was in printing in a wet darkroom. It was also the agony. I still have my M6 and lenses …… Just in case …….

    • Keep it, but exercise it occasionally…

    • Wet darkrooms are not health places while I still dev the odd roll of film but I would not want to go back to a lot of wet printing. I had a friend and large wet prints caused his premature death, not good.

      • Oh, how so? Are some of the chemicals carcinogenic?

        • Those chems used for developing, and more so for printing are pure poison. Highly allergenic, and to some degree carcinogenic.
          My wife is a doctor, trained, and researching in occupational medicine. Right now she’s researching lung diseases caused by working conditions for bakers, photographers, chemists, and metallworkers- in short jobs that work with respirable dust and fumes. She regularly has photographers as patients, that show allergic reactions if they even come near chems, in closed bottles! Many had to give up their job.
          Least of your problems is that you develop an allergic reaction to those chems, this can’t be prevented – it WILL happen sooner or later.
          I only dev the odd roll under proper ventilation, with latex gloves. And even that can only postone an allergy. As much as I love to shoot my OM1, and MF cameras, and dev on my own (I’m a dedicated Acros 100 user, thank God they are readily available here in Europe in pretty much every store that has film), it’s just not worth it to take such high risks.

          • Iskabibble says:

            Just wear a pair of gloves when working with chemicals and have a fan on. No need to get hysterical.

          • Iskabibble says:

            “it WILL happen sooner or later.”

            Absolute nonsense. Plenty of people work with chemicals all their lives (myself 25 years and counting) without any allergic problems. At all.

          • Ouch. Good thing I don’t develop that much film. And I do make an effort not to touch any of the chemicals directly, which I suppose helps. It’s for a much more prosaic reason though – I just dislike the way they make my fingers smell!

  43. Pan F 50, such wonderful film. I haven’t used it since I photographed a couple Mercedes 540K near Los Angeles. I’m not sure why I thought you were older, but no matter, hope you enjoy your birthday. Perhaps a nice cigar awaits you.

    • Is it me, or is the emulsion really fragile compared to Delta and Acros? Same with Tmax, for that matter.

      No cigars today, 120 watches for retouching await me…

      • That is the same as I recall with Pan F 50. It seemed very delicate. I’m not sure what the difference is in the emulsion that causes that. I use to process in DDX.

        • Same here. Perhaps it’s the emulsion chemistry – T grain vs Delta grain?

          • My favorite of the past films was AGFA APX100, though supposedly the Rollei films are like that. Comparing Kodak TMax100 to Ilford Pan F 50, the TMX renders everyone like goths. 😉 If I would guess what is going on in Pan F 50, then I think it is really thin to be less sensitive to light and get to ISO 50. I used AGFA APX 25 once, and it was nothing like Pan F 50. Ilford Delta 100 is much more durable, though I prefer HP5+ for skintones. There probably is some subtle difference in the chemistry. It’s interesting to think about another thing in all this; of all the films I just mentioned, each has noticeable differences. If we shot digital at these various ISO values and tried to emulate these old films, it just doesn’t get there without looking pushed around and altered.

            • Thinness of emulsion would make sense, though not necessarily for TMX. I still think Acros is pretty much the king of low ISO B&W; it’s got finer grain, better highlight shoulders and both pushes and pulls well…

  44. Happy birthday and many more returns of the day, Ming.

  45. Mark Ortega says:

    Happy birthday Ming!

  46. As usual exceptional photography. Congrats with your birthday. Cheers, Rudy.

  47. Happy Birthday Ming! You old buzzard! Ha! 27. I could be so lucky to be 27 again! So I gotta tell you, in the past I have said that I don’t always connect to your architectural work, but this set really changed that for me. Really enjoyed it. I just keep getting drawn in. It has a very futuristic/science fiction feel to it for me. The 4th frame with the triangles….. love it. The lobby sculpture and the cladding shots rock too! Maybe the moral of that story is that if you look at something long enough and shoot with enough different cameras that you will come full circle and see something new. Have a great Birthday!!

  48. Hi Ming.

    Happy birthday to you, I hope you get a chance to celebrate a bit.

    Your shots are wonderful as always – the reflections of the metal and glass surfaces are rendered beautifully.

    Best regards

  49. Richard T says:

    Happy 27th from Switzerland Ming!

  50. Michael Coffey says:

    Happy birthday Thein (hope that’s right). Your blog and photos continues to make me think about photography. Great thoughts on why we take photos

  51. Ron Scubadiver says:

    The images portray the massiveness of the buildings well. What do you use when scanning a negative with a D800e?

    • Thanks Ron. Custom rig to hold/tension/advance the film, keep it all parallel, and a 60/2.8 macro. I’ll be putting a limited run of these up for sale on the site as soon as I sort out final manufacturing issues…

  52. Franco Morante (Adelaide, South Australia) says:

    Love those clean geometric forms. Happy birthday Ming.

  53. Love the fourth shot in the sequence. Happy birthday. Treat yourself with an x-pan 🙂

  54. Happy birthday Ming! Only 27 and done so much already, amazing.

  55. Excellent BW series. Happy Birthday Ming! Best Wishes!!

  56. Happy Birthday Ming!!! Wonderful Set!

    Best Wishes – Eric

  57. Nice photos Ming. Particularly like the images once you are inside the building. The silver finish and play on angles and shapes brings a new dimension to the images.

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